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Full text of "The value of model aeronautics."

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Model aeronautics offers many fields of 
endeavor to its devotees* and f conversely, those 
who engage in model aircraft activities comprise a 
vastly heterogeneous group. Men and women, both 
young and old, from all walks of life, spend consid- 
erable portions of their spare time delving into the 
pleasures afforded by model aeronautics. Throughout 
the world there are eager followers of this hobby. 
In Africa, Australia, India, and China there are just 
as ardent and accomplished modellers as in Homevllle, 
U. S. A. As a result of international contests such 
as the Moffett, Wakefield, and others, mod el -builders 
from all nations are brought closer together under the 
influence of a mutual devotion to model aeronautics. 

In the United States alone there are over two 
million model aircraft builders who are the customers 
of an industry valued in excess of three million 

dollars. Model aviation, combines three types of 
'hobbiesi (l) collecting, (2) craft, and (3) rec- 
reation. In the course of time, a hobbyist will 
collect valuable friendships, experiences and 
knowledge, airplane pictures and magazines, contest 
awards, and many kinds of aircraft models. Handi- 
craft is practiced when models are built and re- 
paired. In the case of model airplane construction 
there is something else, an intangible quality, 
that serves to make this phase of model aeronautics 
very satisfying to the individual. There is some- 
thing Yery inspiring in the realization that the 
graceful miniature flying so majestically overhead 
is the brain-child of its builder. Recreation is 
achieved when the models are flown. Very often a 
modeler has to combine the talents of a monkey and 
superman when pursuing a wayward model; which, after 
a five or six mile chase, finally comes to a not so 
graceful landing in the branches of the biggest tree 
in the neighborhood. 

The educational value of model aeronautics 
is another one of the hobby* s assets. This edu- 
cation is decidedly informal and usually accumu- 
lates as the result of much painful experience. 
Spiral dives and stalls are relatively easy to 
explain and account for in theory, but any model 
builder who has sadly raked together the remnants 
of a once perfectly good model can tell you with 
all his heart and soul the meaning of such terms, 
Model builders gradually develop a steady hand, 
patience (ah that's the one the layman apprecia- 
tes), and resourcefulness. Building successful 
models necessitates a knowledge of mathematics, 
characteristics of airfoils and methods of plott- 
ing them, relationships between areas of different 
flying surfaces, the proper placement of aerody- 
namic forces, and an appreciation of stress and 
structural design. One soon becomes versed in watch 
repairing (mending timers), soldering, electrical 
hook-ups, and the mechanics of internal combustion 


engines. Throughout this educational process the 
modeller gains a profound respect for the practical 
limitations of empirical formulas and techniques 
and the compromises on theory required "by actual 
working conditions and materials. 

Model aeronautics serves both as a prepara- 
tion for and an incentive to a career in some aero- 
nautical activity* Such men as Donald Douglas, 
Igijor Sikorsky, the Wright Brothers and William 
Stout started as model builders. Recent polls 
taken at air schools throughout the country reveal 
that from fifty to seventy five per cent of the 
students are model builders. At the same time this 
survey showed that these same students exhibited 
greater proficiency in the use of aircraft termin- 
ology and tools than di* those who had never built 

Today, as well as in the past when men merely 
dreamed flying, model aircraft are indespen sable 

factors in the success of full size airplanes. 
It is to research with models that full-scale 
aircraft largely owe the refinements of design 
which are the admiration of the laymen. As yet, 
aeronautics is not an exact, mathematically 
proven science and thus many results and formulas 
are largely empirical. Consequently, exact- so ale 
models and parts are essential in determining the 
relative performance of full-scale aircraft. Many 
aircraft plants have their own research divisions, 
but probably the "best known research center is that 
at Langley Field, Virginia. Here many of the skilled 
model makers were formerly model hobbyists. The 
characteristics of the scale models are directly 
determined in wind tunnels, free flight tunnels, 
free spin tunnels, gust tunnels and towing basins. 
After certain correction factors are applied to 
the experimental data to account for scale effect 
and difference in working conditions, the perfor- 
mance of the full-scale craft may be determined 

within two or three percent. 

The aircraft industry is Ti tally concerned 
with the acquletion of plant personnel, and thus 
the educational value of "building models works both 
ways. It is as much a boon to the employer as it 
is to the employee. It might be amusing to send 
new workers to the boss for "dihedral grease", hut 
it is no joke to plant managers trying to speed up 
production and increase plant efficiency. Any new 
worker who is already familliar with the language 
of aviation is a valuable asset to the aviation 

Considerable effort has been expended in 
educating the public to the advantages and safety 
of aviation, hut it is the model builder who has 
brought aviation into the American home. We are 
all familiar with the circus barker type at the 
neighboring airport and the polished high-pressure 
advertising of aircraft plants and transport lines. 
Yet it is young model-minded America assiduously at 

work in home workshops who have largely made the , 
American family aware of the potentialities of 
aeronautics. A Sunday afternoon's visit to a 
model airplane contest and it isn't long before 
the entire family will at least acknowledge that 
aviation does "have something". 

The United States, in a war torn world, has 
come to the abrupt realisation of the essential 
position of aircraft in modern wars. Model 

aeronautics is also essential. Germany, Russia, 
Japan, and England all foster a youth movement 
emphasizing and establishing aviation backgrounds 
through the medium of model aviation. In the 
United States such organizations as the Junior 
Birdman of America (now defunct) and the Academy 
of Model Aeronautics have served to guide and con- 
solidate developments in model aeronautics. A 
fundamental doctrine of the social sciences is that 
of multiple causation, and thus no claims are made 
that model aviation is all important or even strictly 

essential, but it certainly can be an important 
factor both as a source of pleasure and as a 
chance to profit by the gaining of valuable 
knowledge and training.